Update: EU Eases Some Sanctions
The EU agreed on Monday to ease some sanctions on Myanmar, days after it promised to do so. Travel bans and restrictions on senior government officials were lifted, but other sanctions will remain for now, as government officials debate how much to reward Myanmar for its recent string of reforms.
Other European sanctions include an arms embargo against Myanmar and
restrictions on targeted industries such as timber and precious stones. Both the US and EU governments are said to be keen to wait until April when the scheduled by-elections are held, before easing any further restrictions.
Suu Kyi Registers for Elections
Following Aung San Suu Kyi’s announcement that she will be running for the upcoming by-elections to be held on 1 April, Suu Kyi formally registered for the elections yesterday at the local election commission office in Yangon’s southern district. She will be the first member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) to do so and is seeking office in the rural township of Kawhmu, the Yangon suburb which was ravaged by Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
Suu Kyi’s registration will mark the NLD’s return to the political scene after two decades, during which it saw its power denied by the military junta following its election victory in 1990. The NLD previously boycotted the 2010 election when the military junta refused to release Suu Kyi from house arrest to prevent her from running for the elections. However, the NLD will be contesting 44 of its candidates this year out of the 48 available parliamentary seats vacated by lawmakers who have since become cabinet ministers.
Lower house speaker Shwe Mann has guaranteed that “the elections will be free and fair”, although that remains to be seen.
Report: Aung San Suu Kyi Registers For Burma Election Run (BBC News, 18 January 2012)
Report: Suu Kyi Registers for Seat in Myanmar’s Parliament (CBS News, 17 January 2012)
Report: Aung San Suu Kyi Launches Bid For Parliament (The Australian, 19 January 2012)
Update on Sanctions
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton’s spokesman has released a statement saying that “in light of developments in [Myanmar]”, the EU has “launched a general review of [their] policies”. The lifting of sanctions may start as soon as in February and are intended to be incentives for Myanmar to continue to make progress towards reform. Notwithstanding this, EU member countries have yet to agree on whether the EU should go ahead with the plan. Some, like Britain, are keener on waiting until the by-elections have passed before deciding whether sanctions should be lifted. Others, like France and Germany, prefer to have the sanctions lifted sooner rather than later, to encourage the reform process.
Meanwhile French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe believes that his meetings in Myanmar last week “have convinced [him] that there was a total convergence of views among the various authorities to go forward on the road to democratization and liberalization of the regime”. Bearing this in mind, he announced that France will triple its development assistance to Myanmar and may even allow the French Development Agency to aid Myanmar with its education, health and agricultural development. This will be in addition to other courses of action that the French government already has in place, such as the sending of food aid to Burma.
Report: EU Mulls Lifting Sanctions Against Myanmar in February (Channel News Asia, 19 January 2012)
Report: France to Triple Its Aid to Burma (The Irrawaddy, 17 January 2012)